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For our latest contest, we've partnered with the only people we can imagine doing a quinoa contest with: Bob's Red Mill. (If they don't know grains, then we don't know who does.)
1. Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
My parents are really creative cooks, especially for the rural area I grew up in, so I was always showing up to school with "exotic" lunches like whole steamed artichokes, smoked salmon dip, hot and sour soup, or Hungarian paprikash. I also learned to eat seasonally and take advantage of local resources. I grew up along the Columbia River, so we always had freshly caught salmon and foraged mushrooms in the fall, and buckets of huckleberries and fresh produce in the summer. Then my mom would go canning crazy, putting up salsa, pickles, and tons of jam, and my dad would smoke and can jars and jars of salmon to last us through the winter. Now, I live in an apartment in the city, so can't really live off the land quite the same way my parents do, but it definitely influences how I think about food.
2. What's your least favorite kitchen task?
Unloading the dishwasher. Luckily my boyfriend is really good at it!
3. Your favorite kitchen tool?
My KitchenAid stand mixer. Until I got one, I never baked...like...never. Now it just sits there in plain sight everyday, begging me to cream some butter and sugar.
4. What is your idea of comfort food?
I think Thanksgiving dinner is the ultimate comfort food: mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, turkey, stuffing, pie, the works. It's such a warm, comforting meal, and it reminds me of being in the kitchen with my family (which is crazy and hectic but also the best place to be).
5. What is your greatest kitchen disaster?
A few years ago my sister and I tried to make pho. We simmered our broth for hours, then we came to the step where we needed to strain it, and in a totally weird, not-thinking moment, we strained it over an open sink -- keeping only the pieces of anise, cinnamon, and spices, and draining away our flavorful broth. I think we went out for pho that night.